Being an apprentice for an unenlightened organization can suck; talk to people in the trades, and they can tell you how much coffee they had to fetch, among other undesirable tasks. But a group of apprentices at Audi’s factory in Neckarsulm, Germany got to work on something amazing. Since January of this year, a dozen young trainees studying automotive mechatronics, bodywork, vehicle construction mechanics and painting were tasked with turning a 50-year-old car into a modern electric ride, with looks to match, with a little help from Audi Design.
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The starting point was a 1971 NSU Prinz 4. (We looked at John Glenn’s older Prinz here.) NSU, by the way, is the car brand that eventually evolved into Audi. Body and paint apprentices restored the car’s chassis and skin, while the mechanics tackled the powertrain, suspension and battery.
Yes, battery. As a fitting update, the Prinz had its gasoline tank ripped out and replaced with a battery. The original two-cylinder ICE engine also went, replaced with a 240hp e-tron electric motor. The body was widened, as were the fenders; “The apprentices designed these with the support of Audi Design,” the company writes, “and turned them into reality using 3D printing.”
“The project gave our apprentices a chance to work freely with different techniques and materials,” says Timo Engler, Head of Training Vehicle Technology/Logistics. “For example, in addition to the electric drive, they used 3D printing, a second technology of the future. Carbon fiber – familiar from motorsport – was also used for the front hood.”
Audi Board Member for Human Resources Xavier Ros was impressed with the unique project. “With admirable commitment and considerable creativity, our apprentices have built a tremendous car. They can be really proud of the result,” says Audi Board Member Xavier Ros. “Projects like this show that our company has a strong future thanks to our young talent.”